Britain has welcomed the Bangladesh government’s handling of the Rohingya refugee crisis but has described the human rights situation in the country “deeply concerning”, citing allegations of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances, HT reports.
Tariq Ahmad, minister for human rights in the UK Foreign Office, mentioned Bangladesh in his statement on the universal periodic review at the 30th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. Bangladesh remains a “human rights priority country” for the United Kingdom.
He said: “I warmly welcome Bangladesh’s response to the Rohingya crisis…(However), allegations of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances are deeply concerning.
“Pressure continues on freedom of expression and assembly, including in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, as well as broader societal pressures on freedom of religion or belief and signs of groups gaining influence who promote religious intolerance.
“These issues, along with forced labour and human trafficking, are areas I call on the government, working with civil society, to address,” he added.
Ahmad made three recommendations to the Sheikh Hasina government – increase labour inspections and take action against individuals and organisations that subject migrant workers to forced labour, and human trafficking. He asked the government to protect freedom of expression and assembly in media, politics and religion, and work with civil society to address concerns including in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
“Work with civil society to develop a roadmap to implement Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18 on combating religious intolerance,” he added.
Ahmad, however, noted the reluctance of some countries to acknowledge the existence of modern slavery, human trafficking and forced labour, and said: “No one should be comfortable with the knowledge that slavery, in all of its forms, continues to exist in the 21st century.”
Describing it as a global problem that requires global effort, he said London will encourage countries to engage in dialogue with each other, with civil society and experts such as the special rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery “to help consign this evil trade in humans to history”.